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Lapses of Judgment

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Ten minutes later she sat in her seat on the bridge, tapping through a security update when the doors to the turbo lift glided open.

"Good morning, everyone" came the sound of her first officer making his way to his seat at her side. As he passed her he looked straight ahead and if knowing something no one else did said, "Good morning, Captain."

"You're late, Commander," she threw at him—a look of intrigue spreading.

Chakotay took his seat and leaned over toward her, his eyebrows arched. "Sorry, Captain. Long night." From somewhere behind them came a stifled almost snort and Kathryn rolled her eyes. "You okay, Harry?" Chakotay asked none the wiser.

Kathryn glared over at him, "You do seem tired Harry, perhaps you should go get some rest. After all, you are off duty." He nodded a little and headed out the side door with a "Yes, ma'am." Chakotay sent her a quizzical glance then began to shake his head.

"Transport?" He asked quietly.

Raising her eyebrows with a smirk she replied, "Nothing gets passed our Mr. Kim." Their eyes met for a moment and then smiled in spite of themselves, satisfied.

"Captain I'm receiving a priority transmission for you from Starfleet," Tuvok said as a beeping filled the bridge. Nodding, she stood up.

"In my ready room, Lieutenant," she replied excusing herself to her office and taking a seat behind her desk. A few taps of the monitor and Admiral Paris appeared on her screen. "Admiral?"

"Good morning, Captain. At approximately oh-three hundred this morning an unknown shuttlecraft emerged from the Gamma Quadrant near Deep Space 9. The craft was badly damaged—only one life sign aboard. After much precaution the badly injured passenger was transported to sick bay where Dr. Bashir stabilized him." The captain was very confused. Did he expect them to make a detour? Another mission—she certainly hoped not.

"I'm sorry, Admiral, what does this have to do with Voyager?"

"Once he transported to the station, before he lost consciousness he was able to speak one word and one word only." She felt like he was delaying on purpose, as though he was about to deliver some revelation. She'd never known Owen to be so melodramatic

"Yes?" She asked impatiently wishing he would just get to the point.

"He said, 'Annika'." All the pieces clicking together in her brain caused her to gasp and sit back in her seat, a hand over her mouth.

"Axum."

"While Julian is a highly capable physician I had our Borg friend put on a medical shuttle, they should intercept you in the next six hours. I trust your EMH will know how best to proceed in removal of his implants and his care. He's taken quite a beating, it's a wonder he made it this far, but he should make a full recovery." She'd been lost in thought but forced herself to nod in agreement. "We'll have a biobed waiting for him at Starfleet Medical once you've arrived. No doubt it'll be a little while before we're able to debrief him. I'll be transmitting agendas for the crew for your arrival within the next hour. We'll see you soon, Captain."

"Thank you, Admiral. I look forward to it." She ended the transmission and thought how best to inform Seven, certain she'd lost hope months ago. She left her office for the bridge, stopping to ensure her first officer that their breakfast would continue as planned and headed for the astrometrics lab.

/\

When she arrived, Seven was at her customary position at the computer panel while images flew by on the screen. The captain recognized some of the pictures on the imager to be sights from Earth and its history. Seven jumped a little when she heard someone approaching and with a skillful flick of her wrist the screen went blank.

"Captain?" She asked once she'd observed her visitor, her face almost flushing with a confused embarrassment.

"Brushing up on your new home?"

"Yes, Captain. I wish to learn more about the city my aunt lives in as I believe I will be staying with her for a while once Starfleet has released me." The former drone fidgeted a little, she was anything but comfortable with this topic of conversation. "Did you need something?"

Kathryn put her hands behind her back. She'd considered being blunt, but in an attempt to allow her friend the feeling of anticipation had opted for a different route. "Yes. Please run a scan of the space station Deep Space Nine. Early this morning a damaged shuttle with a single passenger emerged from its wormhole," she began as DS9 appeared localized on the screen. "The passenger aboard was injured, beamed to the station and stabilized. He'd had quite a journey—originating in the beta quadrant though a system of remaining transwarp conduits." When she paused, searching her friends face she was sure she'd sparked some intrigue.

"Captain—"

"Please scan all vessels on an intercept course from the space station to our current position and scan for life signs."

With a slow exhale Seven reported, "A medical transport will intercept at approximately 1300 hours. There are seven life signs aboard, all humanoid. Three human, two Vulcan, one Bajoran and—" her breath caught in the back of her throat and betraying her confidence, blood began rushing to her cheeks. "One Borg." Her head spun around, her eyes searching Kathryn's expression. A tender smile, an understanding nod. "He is damaged." She floundered for a second. "Will he be alright?"

"Admiral Paris is confident he will make a full recovery once the Doctor is able to remove his implants and treat his injuries." She took a few steps closer to Seven and laid a friendly hand on her arm. "Are you doing okay?" She'd never seen her looking quite so flustered, it was a nice change.

In a single, almost panting breath Seven responded, "I never thought I'd see him again." The sudden, brutally honest response warmed Kathryn's heart and reminded her just how far Seven had come. Deciding she'd let the news process, she patted her arm and turned to leave. "Captain, a Borg drone arriving alone in the Alpha Quadrant, although highly unlikely should warrant concern instead of compassion. How did they know to contact you? How had they known it was Axum?" Kathryn faced her and flashed a brilliant smile full of a misty-eyed tenderness and Seven felt her heart race in anticipation.

Their eyes level with each other the captain softly replied before she left, "Your name, Annika, was the only thing he was able to say." And with that she retreated, leaving the girl to experience all the emotions that were emanating from every facet of her being.